Barack Obama’s ‘The Beast’ hits Delhi roads
Narendra Modi waves as 'The Beast' car waits to carry Barack Obama and Michelle Obama at the Palam Air Force Station in New Delhi. Barack Obama's arrival Sunday morning in the bustling capital of New Delhi marked the first time an American leader has visited India twice during his presidency. Obama is also the first to be invited to attend India's Republic Day festivities, which commence Monday and mark the anniversary of the enactment of the country's democratic constitution. (AP)
‘The Beast’ waits as PM Narendra Modi, bottom right wearing orange shawl, waits to welcome U.S. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama as they walk down an airstair upon arrival at the Palam Air Force Station in New Delhi, India, Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015. (AP)
The Beast is no different with its eight-inch thick body armour plating and five-inch thick bulletproof windows which insulate the President from all sorts of threats including chemical attacks.
With ‘The Beast’ in the background, Barack Obama walks with Narendra Modi upon arrival at Air Force Station Palam in New Delhi January 25, 2015. In a fresh bid to make India an enduring strategic partner, Obama landed in New Delhi on Sunday for a highly symbolic visit and to nurture friendship with Modi, who a year ago was persona non grata in Washington. Obama is visiting India for three days to attend India’s Republic Day celebrations and meet with Indian leaders. (Reuters)
Secret Service agents keep watch on the tarmac as U.S. President Barack Obama arrives in Boise, Idaho January 21, 2015 in his car ‘Beast’. In his State of the Union speech last night, Obama struck a defiant tone for his dealings with the new Republican-led Congress, calling on his opponents to raise taxes on the rich and threatening to veto legislation that would challenge his key decisions. (Reuters)
US President Barack Obama with India’s PM Narendra Modi at Air Force Station Palam in New Delhi January 25, 2015. (Reuters)
President Barack Obama walks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he arrives on Air Force One at Air Force Station Palam, in Palam, India, Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015. He later rode in ‘The Beast’ to Rashtrapati Bhawan to meet President Pranab Mukherjee and thereafter went to Raghat, the memorial to Mahatma Gandhi. (AP)
US Presidential limousine ‘Beast’ is based on a Cadillac DTS. It has an 8-inch thick body armour plating and 5-inch thick bulletproof windows which insulate the President from all sorts of threats including chemical attacks. (Courtesy: White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Its doors weigh similar to those on a Boeing-757 aircraft. The eight-tonner runs on shred and puncture resistant Kevlar-reinforced tyres with steel rims underneath which ensure that the vehicle does not come to a halt even if its tyres get damaged. Even the fuel tank is covered with a special foam that negates any possibility of an explosion.
Ever since the assassination of President John F Kennedy who was riding an open top Lincoln Continental, the United States has pulled out all stops to make every succeeding Presidential vehicle virtually impenetrable.
Apart from acting as a security shield for the President, the imposing vehicle has also been used to make political statements by successive Presidents. In the recent past, Obama had the vehicle’s number plate carry the message ‘Taxation Without Representation’ to reflect the demand of the citizens of Washington DC to have representation in the US Congress. The Beast, based on a Cadillac DTS is the first Presidential limousine not to have a specific model name.
The vehicle is an amalgamation of features sourced from different vehicles under the General Motors brand with its chassis, doors, headlights, side mirrors and door handles having different origins. Despite the oft-cited declarations of invulnerability, ‘moving fortress’ is not as invincible as it would seem, with the car showing a penchant for breaking down for unknown reasons several times in the past. During the President’s state visit to Israel in 2013, the car broke down and had to be ingloriously towed away atop a truck.
Environmentalists also scoff at the vehicle’s predilection for consuming fuel at a very high rate giving a mileage of 3.4 km per litre. While the Beast may be the centre of attraction, the Indian Presidential vehicle packs quite a punch as well. Since 2012, the President of India travels in a heavily armoured black Mercedes Benz S600 (W221) Pullman Guard. The armour is designed to protect against military rifle shots, bomb shrapnels and other explosives.
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